Liz Cheney on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert Wasn’t Letting Liz Cheney & Republicans off the Hook for Donald Trump

Trump isn't an aberration after all.
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It’s a political version of the chicken and the egg: Did Donald Trump help create the modern Republican Party in his image? Or did Republican voters so strongly see themselves in Trump already? Stephen Colbert had some words for Liz Cheney’s assertion that Trump doesn’t represent them.

Colbert recently had anti-Trump Republican Cheney on The Late Show, and of course this topic came up, with Colbert bringing up the idea of Trump not being an aberration among Republicans, and Cheney of disagreeing. One of her explanations for Republican voters’ support was that Trump preyed on their patriotism, which is completely disingenuous.

We have to stop thinking Trump fans are really invested in the betterment of America as a whole. What they are really doing is calling it “patriotism” to “other” whole segments of the population. I would argue it is not. I like that Colbert kept bringing up the word fascist, to which Cheney said Trump was using the “fascist playbook.”

So … why did he have so much success among Republicans with a fascist playbook? Wouldn’t he have had to appeal to people with—oh, I don’t know … fascist tendencies? Why did Republican voters attach themselves to him so much? Cheney addressed this, too, condemning people who stormed the Capitol on January 6, of course, and the hateful “regalia” they commonly showed. But she still tried to engage in both sides-ism and wanted to distance Republicans from Trump’s actions, such as his attempts to undermine institutions.

Cheney said we should caution against thinking everything the Republicans have ever done is the same as what Trump is doing. Colbert pointed out that there are breadcrumbs. He also pushed back a little by saying that Republicans have BEEN using the mantra that government is the problem for a long time—a sentiment inextricably attached to Trump’s subversion of democracy. Republicans, well before Trump, ran by making people think that “more government” is always bad. Trump took that and made it more egregious and explicit, by trying to truly subvert our institutions, which Colbert pointed out. 

The problem is that people like Cheney, who don’t like Trump, want to ignore the failings of the Republican Party and their part in creating his brand of politics. The Majority Report, in examining this conversation, also brought up the Southern Strategy, which sought to bring white voters in the south to the Republican party. And boy was racism part of the plan! Trump is an evolution of these same tactics, but he isn’t completely different.

What we see with him is a personality problem. He doesn’t care about being hateful, doesn’t care about hiding his strategies, and certainly doesn’t care about political norms. All of these things, you could argue, have been at least somewhat important to most leading figures in the GOP, as a way to hide their true goals behind a veneer of respectability. So two things can be true: Trump can be quite different in some ways than anyone we have seen, and he can represent the past of the party and its current voters as a whole.

Here’s some more of their conversation:

(featured image: CBS)

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